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Opening a Business Bank Account in the EU As a Non-Resident

Opening a Business Bank Account in the EU As a Non-Resident

If you’re looking to start a business in Europe, getting a European business bank account should be a no-brainer.

As a general rule, you will be able to start a European business bank account even if you’re a non-resident. However, you may be required to be physically present at a high street bank with documentation, or face higher fees or service limitations compared to residents.

But there are alternatives. For locally-orientated multi-currency accounts with direct IBANs, 30+ currencies, EU/UK/US and international payments, try out Silverbird.

This article at a glance

Opening a business bank account in Europe can be an arduous process. After all, the EU is notorious for slapping businesses with red tape. But as long as you can justify your reason for wanting to start a business bank account in the EU, you are free to do so. If you want to do business in Europe but don’t want to deal with bureaucracy and high costs, there are alternatives.

Who can start a European business bank account for non-residents?

Anyone can open a business bank account in Europe providing they have a good reason for doing so. The reason itself is important — it can make or break an application. Some suitable reasons include the following:

  • Accepting payment from customers in Europe
  • Growing your business operations in Europe
  • Paying suppliers in Europe
  • Requiring European payment processing
  • Searching for a stable currency and banks

Although these reasons seem straightforward, most high street banks need you to substantiate your reason with supporting documentation, which can be in the form of the following:

  • Invoices
  • Signed contracts
  • Proof of address
  • Local utility bills
  • Lease agreements
  • Local company registration
  • Tax ID numbers

Reasons to Open a European Bank Account as a Non-Resident:

  1. Real Estate Ownership or Rental: Facilitate property-related transactions and manage finances for real estate holdings in Europe.
  2. Investing in European Stocks: Access European stock markets and utilise European brokerage services for investment purposes.
  3. Stable Currency and Banking: Benefit from the stability of European currencies and establish a reliable banking relationship, particularly appealing for individuals from countries with volatile currencies like Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa.
  4. Tourists and Frequent Business Travelers: Enjoy the convenience of having a European bank account while spending time in Europe as a tourist or engaging in frequent business travel, simplifying financial transactions and currency conversion.

What do I need to open a bank account in Europe?

Common Account Opening Requirements:

  • Valid passport or national ID
  • Proof of address in a European country (utility bill, rental contract, etc.)
  • Proof of employment or school enrollment

Additional documents such as income statements or tax numbers may be requested by certain banks. If you cannot provide all the necessary documents immediately, consider organizing your paperwork or exploring banks with alternative requirements.

What are some of the challenges to start a European business bank account for non-residents?

European business is laden with bureaucratic hurdles. Starting a business bank account is no different. Some challenges non-residents may face include:

  • Stringent documentation requirements
  • Physical presence for account opening
  • Recurrent bank application denials
  • Local tax identification requirements
  • Requirements for local and regional ties
  • Local contact number for verification and activation
  • Provision of the wrong proof of address
  • Exorbitant charges by service providers

High street banks impose strict regulations if you’re a non-resident, as part of rules surrounding international tax compliance. For instance, if you were to provide the wrong local tax identification number or the wrong address, your application could be immediately denied.

This is why selecting the right bank is so important.

Benefits of Opening a European Bank Account as a Non-Resident

There are plenty of benefits to opening a European bank account as a non-resident. Let’s look at some of them.

International Accessibility: A European bank account provides convenient access to the Eurozone and facilitates transactions across multiple countries within the European Union.

Enhanced Financial Services: European banks often offer a wide range of financial services, including investment opportunities, wealth management, and specialised banking products tailored for non-residents.

Currency Diversification: Holding funds in a European bank account allows for currency diversification, reducing the reliance on a single currency and potentially mitigating exchange rate risks.

Stability and Security: European banks are known for their robust regulatory frameworks, providing a high level of financial stability and depositor protection through schemes like the European Deposit Insurance Scheme.

Business Expansion: Opening a European bank account can facilitate business operations within the Eurozone, enabling smoother international transactions and enhancing credibility with European partners.

Personal Convenience: Having a European bank account can simplify various financial activities, such as receiving payments, managing expenses, and conducting online transactions in euros.

It is essential to research specific banks and their offerings to determine the best fit for your individual needs and preferences as a non-resident.

How to open a European bank account online as a Non-Resident?

Opening a European bank account online as a non-resident typically involves the following steps:

  1. Research and choose a suitable European bank: Look for banks that offer online account opening for non-residents and meet your specific requirements.
  2. Check the bank’s eligibility criteria: Review the bank’s website or contact their customer support to understand if they accept non-resident applications and what documentation they require.
  3. Prepare necessary documents: Commonly required documents include a valid passport, proof of address (utility bill or bank statement), and sometimes additional information like employment details or financial statements.
  4. Submit an online application: Visit the bank’s website or use their dedicated online banking portal to complete the account opening application. Provide accurate information and upload the required documents as instructed.
  5. Verification and approval process: The bank will review your application and documents. They may perform additional identity verification checks. This process can take a few days to weeks, depending on the bank.
  6. Fund your account: Once your account is approved, you will receive instructions on how to fund your account. This can typically be done through wire transfer or other designated methods.
  7. Access and manage your account: Upon successful account funding, you will receive login credentials to access your account online. From there, you can manage your funds, make transactions, and utilise the banking services offered.

Remember, the specific process and requirements may vary between banks and countries, so it’s important to research and follow the instructions provided by your chosen European bank.

How to choose a high street bank for international banking

When it comes to banking, major British banks (UK) like HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, and NatWest Group are a good place to start. They all have a solid local presence in the EU. Check out this article on uk business bank accounts for non residents to find out more.

However, these big players have stringent requirements for new clients — especially non-residents and SMEs. Low-risk clients with long track records are preferred.

You’re also required to demonstrate that you have large enough finances to deposit large cash amounts, starting from £100,000 and that this capital will be bringing in lots of revenue from incurring fees. If your business profile fits this, chances are that you will be able to get a business account with one of the major 4 UK banks.

An advantage of having a business bank account with a tier-1 bank would be lower transaction fees on high transaction volumes, and you can always rely on their global expertise, reputation and security.

However, you can also consider other banks if your application with one of the major banks gets denied. These include Bank of America, Santander, Citibank, and Triodos Bank. These second-tier banks generally have requirements that are less challenging to fulfil, although they would still require you to have a high turnover of £50,000 and charge high monthly fees.

Spanish banks are a great place to start. Check out this article on how to open a bank account in Spain to find out more.

It sounds troublesome to open a business bank account as a non-resident. Are there alternatives?

Your options are no longer limited to traditional banking. Payment service providers generally cost less in account maintenance fees and require a smaller volume of transactions per month (10,000+). Consider the following payment service providers:

a. Revolut

Revolut Pros Revolut Cons
Offers retail and business banking, investing, merchant services to crypto access No physical bank or staff you can liaise with 2% fee on cash withdrawal
Provision of smart cards Limited fee-free payments

Revolut’s global business current account lets you hold, receive, and exchange over 30 currencies, and spend in more than 150 currencies at market rates. They also issue smart cards with physical and virtual company debit cards for your business needs.

However, Revolut for Business is currently only available to businesses registered and physically operating in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. There are issues. There is no physical bank, no staff to liaise with, a fixed 2% fee on all cash withdrawals, and limited fee-free payments.

b. Silverbird

Silverbird Pros Silverbird Cons
Easy onboarding without the need for paperwork Technology-driven approach with a human touch. No credit or debit cards yet, but will be rolled out soon
Accepts over 98% of international trade applicants
Protects 100% of your money
Most affordable online payment provider catering to international SMEs

If you’re looking to open a business bank account without the hassle, Silverbird is the answer. Opening an account in the EU, UK or US as a non-resident is intuitive and stress-free with our online onboarding.

The onboarding process is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Introduce yourself

Fill in your details and confirm your role in the company to preview what your Silverbird account would look like.

2. Describe your business

Answer some simple questions, such as who your customers are and where your company is based — so the account can be tailored to your needs.

3. Verify your identity and upload documents

Take a selfie and upload your supporting business documents with your smartphone. Your application will then be sent for review.

The first digital bank for international trade, Silverbird allows for large international transfers, world-beating FX rates, global business accounts, and local EU/UK bank details including IBAN. With a Silverbird global account, you’re not limited to only SWIFT international payments when sending money abroad.

Silverbird also provides local payment solutions in 20 countries to make business international transfers cheaper and more efficient. Ultimately, Silverbird has a bulletproof security solution, protecting 100% of your money by holding it at reputable UK and EU banks.

c. Wise

Wise Pros Wise Cons
Pay invoices in over 70 countries at mid-market rate. Recipients cannot get money as cash
Offers what you need to bank abroad, including an IBAN, a sort code, routing number, and more. Money can only be transferred to a mobile wallet or bank account
Debit card available One-off fee of £16 to start receiving money
For transferring large amounts, you might get a specialist foreign exchange provider with lower fees.

Previously known as TransferWise, a Wise Business account allows you to pay invoices in over 70 countries at a mid-market rate. Wise offers a banking alternative for you to get everything you require to send money abroad — an IBAN, a sort code, a routing number, and more.

You can also get a debit card for your business expenses in any currency.

Wise card is not available in many countries Opening a business bank account can be a breeze

Forget traditional banking.

At Silverbird, we challenge traditional banks to make international trade easier for SMEs. Today, 8 out of 10 SMEs looking to start exporting get rejected by banks.

Silverbird is NOT a bank. It’s a financial technology company offering global SMEs a digital alternative to traditional banking. We deal with payment institutions, regulators, and trade finance organisations, so businesses that bank on Silverbird don’t have to.

Start onboarding today.


Can a foreigner open a bank account in Europe?

Yes, foreigners can generally open bank accounts in the European Union (EU). The specific requirements and procedures may vary between countries and banks, but many EU member states allow non-residents to open accounts. Foreigners typically need to provide identification documents such as a passport and proof of address. Some banks may have additional requirements or restrictions.

Which European country is the easiest to open a bank account in?

Estonia is often regarded as one of the easiest European countries for foreigners to open a bank account. Estonia has embraced digital innovation and offers e-residency programs, making the account opening process streamlined and accessible to non-residents.

Can a UK citizen have a euro bank account?

Yes, a UK citizen can have a euro bank account. Many banks in the UK offer euro-denominated accounts, allowing UK citizens to hold and transact in euros. These accounts provide convenience for individuals who frequently deal with euro-based transactions or have financial ties to the Eurozone.

Can I get a EU bank account?

As a non-EU citizen, it may be more challenging to open a bank account in the European Union (EU). However, some EU countries have more accessible processes for non-residents. Research the specific requirements and policies of banks in your chosen EU country to determine if you are eligible to open an account as a non-EU citizen.

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